This book is over twenty years old, so there are parts that are out of date. Certainly a lot has happened in the Middle East since 1995! That being said, many parts of the books are very relevant to the World today. The book looks at the role of women in Islam, and the different ways that religious texts have been interpreted. The book shows the diverse cultures among women in the Middle East and North Africa, describing the differences in the lives of women in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. The book sometimes has a very disjointed tone, with chapters being dedicated to belly dancing, sports, and Queen Noor, while other chapters cover more serious topics like the penalties for adultery, so called "honor killings", female genital mutilation, and women who are barred from leaving their houses. For a book supposedly about Islamic women, it ignores a very large part of that population by only looking at women in the Middle East and North Africa.
An Australian-born journalist, she spent many years in the Middle East observing and interviewing its women. She has carefully researched the origins of such customs as the hijab; female circumcision and infibulations; divorce and child custody; polygamy; and participation in politics.
Depressing and enlightening to read about the treatment and restrictions of Muslim Women. Brooks does great writing. She met and befriended many interesting Women from Muslim societies and relates their points of views and personal stories.
Brooks' experience as a journalist in the Middle East fueled this book. Her work mainly gave her contact with men, since they tend to rule the countries she dealt with. But she became curious about the women behind the veils, and the few who didn't veil. She found most of them very welcoming, eager to share their lives with her. She tried not to be judgemental, though in cases like clitoridectomy and the status of women in Saudi Arabia, she had a hard time keeping silent. She ended up being grateful for her time with the women, while hoping for more for them and their daughters--and sons. She begins with the title, which comes from the Koran. There women are said to have nine parts of human sexuality to men's one. This is the fuel for men's fear of women's sexuality, and thus their repression. While it doesn't "excuse" it to Westerners, it does help explain it. One of my favorite chapters showed Brooks learning to belly dance in Egypt, where the fundamentalists were trying to outlaw this ancient art form.
Of all recent books on the Middle East this must be the most revealing! Brooks set out to understand the female role in Islam, and here is her very personal account of her meetings with Muslim women (including the widow of the Ayatollah Khomeini) who welcomed her into their world. Sometimes sad, often shocking, but always frank and compassionate, this is a book I could not put down!
Are there any copies of the English version? So many copies of the Korean edition is great for Korean readers, but English would be nice (at least one copy?) Thanks!
Very insightful, enjoyed it greatly. I have great respect for all her writing.
Incredible recount of an emotional uncovering of the truth in Islam, written expertly and with compassion.
i read this book many years ago and still remember the insights and challenges presented
Brooks was a prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, who spent six years covering the Middle East. Her gender allowed her access to people and situations that male journalists could not, and inspired this book. She tells of experiences in many Islamic countries and made connections with women in these different communities. She tells of prejudices, opportunities and contradictions. An eye-opening book on a world that is complex and important to the world today. Brooks went in with a respectful attitude and a willingness to listen and try to understand the realities of these women's lives. She probed for their reasons for the choices they made, the societal pressures they experienced, and observed how men and women interacted in these societies.
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